Episode 142: Ponzi Schemes

We are surrounded by frauds, and are dying to believe them. Vivek Kaul joins Amit Varma in episode 142 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss ponzi schemes, both in India and outside, both by private actors and the government. Also discussed: chit funds and kitty parties, and why we are wired to be deceived.

Also check out:
1. Real Estate Prices: Episode 30 of The Seen and the Unseen
2. The Anti-Defection Law: Episode 13 of The Seen and the Unseen
3. 12 Dream Reforms: Episode 138 of The Seen and the Unseen
4. Ponzi's Scheme -- Mitchell Zuckoff
5. Anatomy of a Ponzi Scheme -- Colleen Cross
6. Irrational Exuberance -- Robert Shiller
7. Narrative Economics -- Robert Shiller
8. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds -- Charles Mackay

Image credit: ‘Together’ by Haren Vakil

Episode 141: Being Gay, Loving Books

Vivek Tejuja, known for his writing on books, has just released his memoir of growing up gay in India. He joins Amit Varma in episode 141 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss how he -- and those around him -- came to terms with his sexuality. In the second half of the episode, Vivek and Amit discuss writers they like, and read out their favourite poetry.

Also check out:
1. So Now You Know -- Vivek Tejuja
2. Being Gay in India -- Episode 84 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Navin Noronha)
3. Keeping it Queer
4. The Matunga Racket -- Amit Varma
5. Amit Varma's Twitter thread on 'The Lass of Aughrim' and The Dead
6. Almost Invisible -- Mark Strand
7. Sputnik Sweetheart -- Haruki Murakami
8. The Elephant Vanishes -- Haruki Murakami
9. The Bear Came Over the Mountain -- Alice Munro
10. The Man Who Loved Children -- Christina Stead
11. The Notebook -- Agota Kristof
12. Jhumpa Lahiri on Conversations With Tyler
13. Paper Menagerie -- Ken Liu
14. A Poetry Handbook -- Mary Oliver

Episode 140: India's Agriculture Crisis

What exactly is wrong with Indian agriculture? How can we help our farmers? Barun Mitra and Kumar Anand join Amit Varma in episode 140 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the root causes and remedies of this decades-long problem.

Also check out:
1. The State of Our Farmers -- Ep 86 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Gunvant Patil, in Hindi).
2. Entry and Exit in Indian Agriculture -- Ep 1 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Pavan Srinath & Karthik Shashidhar)
3. Futures Markets in Agriculture -- Ep 12 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Karthik Shashidhar)
4. The Unseen Effects of Farm-Loan Waivers --Ep 25 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Kumar Anand & Vivek Kaul)
5. The Right to Property -- Ep 26 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan)
6. The Delhi Smog -- Ep 40 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Kaul)
7. Free the Farmers -- Barun Mitra
8. Where are the Markets? -- Kumar Anand
9. The Crisis in Indian Agriculture -- Brainstorm on Pragati
10. We Must Save Our Farmers -- Amit Varma
11. The Indian State is the Greatest Enemy of the Indian Farmer -- Amit Varma
12. A Tale of Two Satyagrahas -- Amit Varma
13. Down to Earth -- Sharad Joshi
14. The Mystery of Capital -- Hernando De Soto

Episode 139: The Gita Press and Hindu Nationalism

The recent victories of political Hindutva were enabled by a century-long cultural movement spearheaded by a publishing house based in Gorakhpur. Akshaya Mukul, author of Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India, joins Amit Varma in episode 139 of The Seen and the Unseen. Themes discussed include the relationship between society and the state, Marwari history, cow, temple, gender, caste, Muslims, Communism, and the spontaneous combustion of virtuous Hindu women.

Also check out:
1. Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India -- Akshaya Mukul
2. The Intellectual Foundations of Hindutva -- Episode 115 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Aakar Patel)
3. Political Ideology in India -- Episode 131 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rahul Verma)
4. Religion and Ideology in Indian Society -- Episode 124 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Suyash Rai)
5. The 2019 Elections -- Episode 122 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Sadanand Dhume)
6. The BJP's Magic Formula -- Episode 45 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Prashant Jha)

Episode 138: Twelve Dream Reforms

Times are bad -- but pessimists can dream! Tired of only talking about problems, Shruti Rajagopalan, Rajeswari Sengupta and Vivek Kaul join Amit Varma in episode 138 of The Seen and the Unseen, to propose solutions! Three each. Many bad jokes and Bollywood songs are thrown in.

Also check out
1. Population Is Not a Problem, but Our Greatest Strength -- Amit Varma.
2. Alone in the City -- Amit Varma
3. Where Are the Jobs? -- Ep 87 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Yazad Jal)
4. Education in India -- Ep 77 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Amit Chandra)
5. Urban Governance in India -- Ep 31 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan)
6. The Bad and Complex Tax -- Ep 74 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan)
7. GST Revisited -- Ep 28 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Kaul)
8. Early Indians -- Ep 112 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Tony Joseph)
9. Immigration -- Ep 4 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shikha Dalmia)
10. Rent Control -- Ep 14 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Alex Tabarrok)
11. FSI -- Ep 11 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Alex Tabarrok)
12. Women at Work -- Ep 132 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Namita Bhandare)
13. IL&FS and the Indian Financial System -- Ep 91 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Kaul & Ashutosh Datar)
14. The DNA of the NPA -- Ep 32 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Kaul & Kumar Anand)
15. Demystifying GDP -- Ep 130 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rajeswari Sengupta)
16. India's Lost Decade -- Ep 116 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Puja Mehra)

Episode 137: Indian Society: The Last 30 Years

The India of 2019 is a different country from the India of 1989. Social commentator Santosh Desai joins Amit Varma in episode 137 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the many ways in which we have been transformed in this time -- not always for the better.

Also check out:
1. Santosh Desai's column archives in The Times of India.
2. Mother Pious Lady: Making Sense of Everyday India -- Santosh Desai
3. The Decline of Collective Trust -- Santosh Desai
4. Surrounded by Screens -- Santosh Desai
5. TikTok: Leave Them Kids Alone -- Santosh Desai
6. The Great Indian Rope Trick -- Santosh Desai
7. The Future as Flow -- Santosh Desai
8. Women at Work -- Ep 132 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Namita Bhandare)
9. The Indianness of Indian Food -- Ep 95 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vikram Doctor)
10. How to Escape From the Shallows -- Amit Varma

Episode 136: Data Journalism and Indian Politics

Data journalism in India is fast coming of age, shedding light on our society and politics. Roshan Kishore joins Amit Varma in episode 136 of The Seen and the Unseen to speak about his profession (data journalism), his passion (political economy) and his dark, mysterious past as a student leader in JNU.

Also check out:
1. Roshan Kishore's writings in Hindustan Times.
2. Demystifying GDP -- Episode 130 of The Seen and the Unseen.
3. The Intellectual Foundations of Hindutva -- Episode 115 of The Seen and the Unseen.
4. Political Ideology in India -- Episode 131 of The Seen and the Unseen.

Episode 135: Two Economic Crises (2008 & 2019)

Mohit Satyanand saw the 2008 crisis coming and put his money where his mouth was. Now he says we're in the middle of another crisis. He joins Amit Varma in episode 135 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain what exactly went wrong in 2008, and what's gone wrong now.

Also check out:
1. This is All Because of Rupal Ben -- Episode 5 of The Seen and the Unseen
2. Poker and Stock Markets -- Episode 47 of The Seen and the Unseen
3. DeMon, Morality and the Predatory Indian State -- Episode 85 of The Seen and the Unseen
4. The Bad and Complex Tax -- Episode 75 of The Seen and the Unseen
5. Easy Money -- Episode 56 of The Seen and the Unseen

Episode 134: Kashmir and Article 370

Kashmir is in lockdown, and Article 370 is history. What does this mean for Kashmir -- and for India? Historian Srinath Raghavan joins Amit Varma in episode 134 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the historical, geopolitical, ideological and moral questions at the heart of the Kashmir problem.

Also check out
1. War and Peace in Modern India -- Srinath Raghavan
2. The Geopolitics of the Bangladesh War -- Episode 113 of The Seen and the Unseen.
3. Understanding the India-Pakistan Conflict -- Episode 111 of The Seen and the Unseen.
4. Uncle Sam in South Asia -- Episode 93 of The Seen and the Unseen.
5. We Won’t Need To Fight A War If We Can Win The Peace -- Amit Varma.
6. The Article 370 Amendments: Key Legal Issues -- Gautam Bhatia
7. Article 370: A Constitutional History of Jammu and Kashmir -- AG Noorani
8. A People's Constitution -- Rohit De
9. The Generation of Rage in Kashmir -- David Devadas

Episode 133: Fighting Fake News

We live in a world besieged by falsehood -- but there is a growing resistance movement. Pratik Sinha of Alt News joins Amit Varma in episode 133 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about disinformation, misinformation and why the truth will prevail.

Also check out:
1. Alt News
2. Truth of Gujarat
3. India Misinformed -- Pratik Sinha and co-authors
4. The Alt News App for Android
5. The Facts Do Not Matter -- Amit Varma
6. Public Opinion -- Walter Lippmann

Episode 132: Women at Work

There is a crisis in India today. There are not enough women taking up paying jobs -- and their unpaid labour at home continues to be taken for granted. Journalist Namita Bhandare joins Amit Varma in episode 132 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the state of women in India today.

Also check out:
1. Namita Bhandare's homepage.
2. Namita Bhandare in the Hindustan Times.
3. Why Indian Workplaces Are Losing Women -- Namita Bhandare (The IndiaSpend series)
4. Namita Bhandare at Sheroes.
5. Metrics of Empowerment -- Episode 88 of The Seen and the Unseen
6. The Importance of #MeToo -- Episode 90 of The Seen and the Unseen
7. An Economist Looks at #MeToo -- Episode 92 of The Seen and the Unseen
8. Frailty, Thy Name is Public Policy -- Devika Kher
9. The Girl From Haryana -- Amit Varma
10. Men Must Step Up Now -- Amit Varma

Episode 131: Political Ideology in India

The usual spectrum of left and right does not apply to Indian politics. But does that mean that our politics is based on identity and patronage, and not ideology? Not quite, says political scientist Rahul Verma, as he joins Amit Varma in episode 131 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain the two ideological cleavages that divide India.

Also check out:
1. Ideology and Identity -- Pradeep K Chhibber and Rahul Verma
2. Religious Practice and Democracy in India -- Pradeep K Chhibber
3. Religion and Ideology in Indian Society -- Episode 124 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Suyash Rai)
4. Imagine No Possessions -- Episode 26 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan)
5. Crime in Indian Politics -- Episode 114 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Milan Vaishnav)

Episode 130: Demystifying GDP

In recent times, the GDP has become less of an economic measure and more of a political tool. Economist Rajeswari Sengupta joins Amit Varma in episode 130 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain what the GDP is, what it is good for, what it is not good for and what the fuss over this figure in India is all about. This episode has immeasurable value.

Also check out:
1. Rajeswari Sengupta’s writings.
2. The Great Indian GDP Measurement Controversy — Rajeswari Sengupta
3. Real GDP is growing at 5%, not 7.1% — Rajeswari Sengupta
4. GDP conundrum: Is India booming? — Rajeswari Sengupta
5. GDP – A Brief but Affectionate History — Diane Coyle
6. Gross Domestic Problem — Lorenzo Fioramonti
7. The Power of a Single Number — Philipp Lepenies

Episode 129: Budget. Bollywood. Badmaashi

Like cricket and cinema, the annual budget brought out by the central government has become a national obsession. Vivek Kaul. the Shah Rukh Khan of Economics, joins Amit Varma, the Govinda of Podcasting, in episode 129 of The Seen and the Unseen to demystify the budget. Much fun is had. Blockbuster guaranteed.

Also check out:
1. The Sholay Redux -- Vivek Kaul
2. Easynomics: Why high-income tax hurts -- Vivek Kaul
3. How ₹1.7 trillion has gone missing -- Vivek Kaul
4. The State of Our Farmers -- Episode 86 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Gunvant Patil)
5. DeMon, Morality and the Predatory Indian State -- Episode 85 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan)
6. All Hail Public Choice Theory -- Episode 121 of The Seen and the Unseen
7. India's Lost Decade -- Episode 116 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Puja Mehra)
8. Economics in One Lesson -- Henry Hazlitt (free pdf link)
9. The Law -- Frédéric Bastiat
10. Marginal Revolution University

Episode 128: India = Migration

India is a nation on the move, and migration is in our DNA. Economic historian Chinmay Tumbe joins Amit Varma in episode 128 of The Seen and the Unseen to present the rich history of migrations into, out of and within India.

Also check out:
1. India Moving -- Chinmay Tumbe
2. The Story of Our Ancestors -- Episode 112 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Tony Joseph)
3. Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon -- Patanga

Episode 127: Our Colorful Past

Indian history is wild fun. Historian Manu Pillai joins Amit Varma in episode 127 of The Seen and the Unseen to regale him with stories from his latest book. The subjects discussed include caste, gender, narrative manipulation, mad elephants and men blown out of cannons.

Also check out:
1. The Courtesan, the Mahatma and the Italian Brahmin -- Manu Pillai
2. The Deccan Before Shivaji -- Episode 98 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manu Pillai)
3. When Gandhi was Mohandas -- Episode 104 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ram Guha)
4. Being Mahatma -- Episode 105 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ram Guha)
5. The Intellectual Foundations of Hindutva -- Episode 115 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Aakar Patel)

Episode 126: Building Sports Ecosystems

Can India ever be a sporting nation? What will it take to get there? Joy Bhattacharjya, who started up Kolkata Knight Riders, brought the u-17 Football World Cup to India and is CEO of the Pro Volleyball League, sure thinks so. He joins Amit Varma in episode 126 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his passion and vision for Indian sport.

Also check out:
1. Bindra's Wishlist (2005) -- Amit Varma
2. Opportunity, Choice and the IPL (2008) -- Amit Varma
3. The IPL is Here and Here Are Six Reasons to Celebrate It (2019) -- Amit Varma
4. Netherland -- Joseph O'Neill

Episode 125: The Importance of Finance

People often talk of the world of Finance as a giant casino, where sociopathic bankers gamble with the livelihoods of real people. Economist Ajay Shah joins Amit Varma in episode 125 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain why this is a misconception, and why Finance is at the heart of our progress.

Also check out
1. Why I Loved and Left Poker -- Amit Varma, from his poker column, Range Rover.
2. Zombie Firms and Creative Destruction -- Episode 118 of The Seen and the Unseen.
3. Futures Markets in Agriculture -- Episode 12 of The Seen and the Unseen.
4. The Indian Financial Code.
5. Poker and Stock Markets -- Episode 47 of The Seen and the Unseen.

Episode 124: Religion and Ideology in Indian Society

What is the role of religion in Indian society? What is conservatism like in India? Suyash Rai joins Amit Varma in episode 124 of The Seen and the Unseen for a wide-ranging free-wheeling chat on these subjects.

Also check out:
1. The Intellectual Foundations of Hindutva -- Episode 115 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Aakar Patel)
2. What is Libertarianism? -- Episode 117 of The Seen and the Unseen (w David Boaz)
3. You're From the Mutton Lobby -- Episode 49 of The Seen and the Unseen (Amit Varma solo, on our political discourse)
4. Every Act of Government is an Act of Violence -- Amit Varma
5. The Three Languages of Politics -- Arnold Kling
6. ये लिबरल आख़िर है कौन? -- Episode 37 of Puliyabaazi (w Amit Varma on Hayek)
7. Ayodhya: The Dark Night -- Dhirendra K Jha and Krishna Jha
8. Sacred and Secular -- Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart
9. A Godless Congregation -- Amit Varma

Episode 123: India's Supreme Court

As the recent sexual harassment case indicates, all is not well with the Supreme Court of India. Constitutional economist Shruti Rajagopalan joins Amit Varma in episode 123 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain why the Supreme Court has gone wrong on both ends of the tradeoff between Independence and Accountability.

Also check out:
Justice Is Dead, Long Live the Justices -- Shruti Rajagopalan
Imagine No Possessions -- Episode 26 of The Seen and the Unseen 
Fixing Our Judicial System -- Episode 62 of The Seen and the Unseen
Ek Baar Jo Maine Commitment Kar Di -- Amit Varma
Where Have All the Leaders Gone? -- Amit Varma